TIPPING TIME

I’m feeling confused about the rules, practices, and realities of tipping.

The kids have worked in food service jobs where tipping and “tipping out” were important to their life-style, even to their economic survival. ‘Course they were always welcome to come home, and at times — each did. One worked wait staff at a really amazing jazz club in NYC, and made more money in a year than I did — working as a government lawyer.

Today, I observed tipping in four settings: baggage handling, taxi ride, neighborhood luncheonette, and ethnic bar/dinner eatery. Bags seem to be per item, or by heft of handled items. The taxi credit card processor provided fares with a choice of tips — 15% or 20%. Then it calculated the tip and totaled the charge. Of course, there is always the possibility that you have 10% or 25% in mind — what happens then? And you never know if you came on the shortest route?

Food service is a whole other thing — it’s a big team: maître d’hôtel, wait staff, servers, table bussers, cashiers — no beverage? no dessert? “Awwww, Ma — leave a New York tip!”